A Striped Armchair Reading Meme

The following questions are from Eva of A Striped Armchair. This will be my first meme as a book blogger! My official initiation!

1. Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews?

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. I know some readers will murder me for saying this, but this book is overrated. Before I slander this critic’s darling, I would just like to point out that I don’t slander blindly. I’ve heard glowing reviews—even Roger Ebert is a fan—and I decided to read it. I was excited. I love Westerns. I heard it was the most violent book ever written, but violence is a cake walk for me (I grew up reading Stephen King and watching Terminator 2 before bed—I am completely desensitized). No, the violence didn’t bother me: it was the writing style and the pace.

Maybe I’m a traditionalist, but I’m fond of dialogue attribution. I’m fond of quotations around dialogue and the simple “……..,” he said. There are no dialogue attribution in Blood Meridian. There are no quotations. So I spent the first few pages pondering who said what. It would have been helpful if the characters had names…but they didn’t. They are not characters at all but abstractions and aptly distinguished as ‘the boy’ or ‘the man.’

Pacing. Let’s just said I read 30 pages but I felt like I read 200. I’m all in favor of ornate language…when used sparingly. I’m sure McCarthy has literary pyrotechnics, but does every sentence have to be one long, glorious sonata? There’s something to be said about the simple sentence and literary restraint. At the end of each page, I was screaming for the appearance of a blessed three word sentence. Just because you have a trunk full of fireworks doesn’t mean to have to blow up the world.

Blood Meridian is abandoned. It’s dead to me.

Cormac McCarthy lovers, please see my About page for information on where to send hate mail.

2. If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be?

For any event, I will always breathe life into the male characters I’m in love with: Jamie Fraser (Outlander series), Nat Eaton (The Witch of Blackbird Pond), and presently Edward Cullen (Twilight series).

If we were on a world cruise, Nat Eaton would be my number one choice as he’s already a seasoned sailor. He has many years of experience on the rigging and since I’m a poor swimmer, he could save me from drowning should our ship enter troubled waters.

Edward Cullen for clubbing in the city because he has a sweet ride (silver Volvo) and a taste for nightlife; with his pristine vampire good looks and seductive, mind-reading charisma, we could get into all the exclusive clubs.

Jamie Fraser is perfect at everything. I’d want him specifically for a tea party or a dinner party because he’s the best storyteller and has an uncanny flare for dramatics.

I realize my boy craziness extends to literature too. Just for fun, if I had to bring a heroine to life, my choice would be Scarlet O’Hara (the heroine I most admire and strive to be like). Of course, she would probably steal all the male attention, so we would be fierce rivals.

Maybe a witty Jane Austen heroine at a tea party would pose less of a threat.

3. (Borrowing shamelessly from the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde): you are told you can’t die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realise it’s past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave?

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. I felt like I wanted to die when I read it and it should no doubt propel me into the land of eternal slumber if I ever pick it up again…which is NEVER!

4. Come on, we’ve all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you’ve read, when in fact you’ve been nowhere near it?

After all my talk about my secret, 16 year-old crush on young Ernest Hemingway, I might have given the impression that I’m well-read in Hemingway.

Confession: I’ve only read The Old Man and the Sea and nothing else. Of course I tried to read The Sun Also Rises and Farewell to Arms. Both abandoned. Maybe I just like the idea of Hemingway more than his writing.

5. As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realise when you read a review about it/go to ‘reread’ it that you haven’t? Which book?

William Shakespeare’s King Lear. I was convinced that I’ve read all the Shakespearean tragedies, but I guess this famous play may have slipped by me. I’m sure I began it, because some names and scenes are familiar, but I can’t really tell you what happened other than some characters die. You wouldn’t expect Shakespeare to read like amnesia so I must have abandoned it.

6. You’re interviewing for the post of Official Book Advisor to some VIP (who’s not a big reader). What’s the first book you’d recommend and why? (if you feel like you’d have to know the person, go ahead of personalise the VIP).

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind. This tops my list as one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s the perfect combination of great writing, inventive storyline, unique characterization, and page-turning pace.

7. A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with?

French. So I can read Les Miserables as it was meant to be read and tackle all the French dialogue in the Brontë novels.

8. A mischievous fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick?

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. Since I was assigned to read it in the 6th grade (age 11), I’ve reread this book once a year and I plan to continue the tradition in the future. This book makes me so happy; it’s my safety blanket. My world would be bleak indeed if it disappeared from publication…

9. I know that the book blogging community, and its various challenges, have pushed my reading borders. What’s one bookish thing you ‘discovered’ from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)?

I’ve rediscovered and developed a new respect for YA literature. My most thrilling discoveries: the Twilight Series (Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse) by Stephenie Meyer. After reading copious blog reviews of Twilight, I decided to jump on the popular bandwagon and see if the book is really worthy of all the hype. I never expected to continue with the series, in fact, I never expected to like it. I knew I was not reading enough in the YA department so I began reading Twilight to broaden my horizons. What eventually developed was a full-blown obsession. As a result, I’m branching off into other YA books that I might have previously ignored. A good story is a good story no matter what genre it is marketed in.

10. That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she’s granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leatherbound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favourite authors have inscribed their works? Go ahead-let your imagination run free.

I’m a visual person so my perfect library has to be beautiful and creatively designed. If there is some special chemical to prevent books from aging into that vile yellow color and giving off that musty, mildewy scent, then it would be applied to all my library books to preserve them from decay. I like the smell of new books!

There will be an abundance of DVDs and even a screening room/movie theater to watch them.

I’m stealing from Disneyland, but what if there were sections of the library designated as the “Jane Austen nook” or the “Mark Twain corner?”

Hmmm, am I creating a library or a literary theme park. I think the latter.

Now I tag four people: Adventures in Reading, Girlebooks, Maggie Reads, and Between the Covers


18 thoughts on “A Striped Armchair Reading Meme”

  1. Aw, Jamie Fraser! =)

    I should re-read those novels again this year, if I find the time. I don’t like Jamie as much as I used to — he’s been over-shadowed, for me, by Lord John — but he’s still quite the fictional character.

  2. Love—
    Although I’m still completely smitten with Jamie Fraser and will be till the end of my days, Lord John has potential. He’s the perfect drawing room conversationalist, the ideal chess partner.

  3. I love the idea of library/theme park! And Jamie is definitely a life-long crush…so adorable and fierce at the same time. 🙂

    I’ve seen the movie Perfume, but haven’t read the book. I really want to, though! And now I’m going to have to reread The Witch of Blackbird Pond…I remember liking it when I was little, but that’s about it! Have you read Witch Child? I remember seeing a couple of reviews, and the idea sounded similar to Blackbird Pond.

  4. Eva—

    Thanks for letting me know about Witch Child. I’ll write it down as a “To Be Read” since I’m willing to read anything that remotely reminds me of the Witch of Blackbird Pond.

    Yes. Definitely read Perfume! After finishing it, I was dancing on air for a couple of days.

  5. this may sound ignorant but which book is Lord John from? I have yet to read the Outlander series because I NEED to know what all the hype is about. and yes i would definitely choose witch of blackbird pond to reread once a year and also read anything remotely comparable to it. but what other books have great subtle chemistry between two characters and great descriptions of meadows and such??

  6. M.mjeed:
    Lord John is a character from the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. He appears in book 3, ‘Voyager’ and since he became such a popular character, Gabaldon authored a spin-off series: The Lord John series. I haven’t read the spin off series, but they are like historical, cloak and dagger mysteries starting with Book 1 “Lord John and the Private Matter.” ( Anyone want to fill me in on what his private matter was? It’s a question I want answered before I kick the bucket).

    The Outlander series are the best books I’ve ever read! So good in fact that I talk about the characters as if they are real people (to the annoyance of everyone around me). Do read them! It would be a gift to me if you read them and spread the word; the world will be a better place. The more people who read them, the more likely the possibility of a movie.

    The order of the Outlander series are as follows:
    1. Outlander
    2. Dragonfly in Amber
    3. Voyager
    4. Drums of Autumn
    5. The Fiery Cross
    6. A Breath of Snow and Ashes
    7. Echo in the Bone (To be published 2009!).

    I can’t think of a book that I came across that reminds of The Witch of Blackbird Pond. It seems like I spent my entire adolescence trying to find books that remind me of WOBP but nothing captures the same atmosphere, the subtle chemistry, the powerful descriptions. I’m still amazed that the author can describe entire images in a just a few sentences. I read Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Speare but it’s not the same.

    This isn’t a book recommendation, but if you ever get a chance to check out Colonial House on PBS (which is on DVD right now—you can probably request it at your library), that documentry/historical reality show reminds me of WOBP. There’s even a colonist/participant named Dominic Muir that resembles Nat Eaton (or what Nat Eaton would look like in his mid-20’s).

  7. Technically, Lord John appears first in Dragonfly in Amber (unless I am much mistaken, which I might well be — memory like a sieve &c), albeit very briefly.

  8. Oh, I remember loving The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and I do believe I still have a copy stashed away somewhere, with all the books I’m saving for my (still phantom) grandchilren!

  9. I really love Perfume! It’s one of those books that I can’t find anyone else that has read it… but I just picked it up and skimmed through it today thinking that I should read it again.

    I didn’t know there was a movie!

    Les Miserables is a book that I am ashamed I’ve never read, I do own it… but that isn’t quite the same thing. I’ve seen the Broadway show, the movie, listened obsessively to the sound track and been to Victor Hugo’s house, but never read the book.

  10. Toryssa:
    Yup, Perfume is a movie and it’s gorgeous, great cast, and, in my opinion, very faithful to the book.

    I love the Les Miserables Broadway musical, so much in fact that I have the soundtrack in both English and French on my MP3 player and I hum “Do You Hear the People Sing” when I drive around. It’s my driving song!
    There was a time when I discovered the 1995 10th Anniversery Concert on VHS and played it over and over again. When it was done, I’ll rewind and watch it again. Incidently, I got the DVD for my birthday.
    I’ve yet to see the show live and you are so lucky to have visited Victor Hugo’s house!

  11. I love Witch of Blackbird Pond and everything associated with Les Mis! I have never learned to appreciate Hemingway, but he’s a babe in that picture!

  12. Great reponses. I’ll have to learn more about Perfume. Sounds good. I just finished Twilight and will be reviewing it soon. (Sigh) What else can I say? An evening with Edward would be lovely as long as he’s not thirsty.

  13. Framed:
    Thanks! I’ll look foward to your review of Twilight! I’m always up for talking about Twilight, I’ve got the book on the brain…

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